National Medical Excellence Awards 2022
This year, we are proud that seven SingHealth Duke-NUS AMC staff are recipients of the prestigious NMEA 2022:
National Outstanding Clinician Educator Award 2022
Prof Chan Choong Meng
As SingHealth's Group Chief Education Officer, he has overall purview of the academic programmes of the group's various institutions. Looking afar at future healthcare needs, Prof Chan is constantly thinking of the education and training needs necessary to build up medical skills and competencies in future generations of clinicians.
In the past two years when education and training were greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic safe management measures, Prof Chan worked to facilitate and ensure safe resumption of essential clinical training for students. He worked closely with the medical schools, MOH and the Group/Campus Education Directors to optimise clinical training and assessments. Prof Chan embraced gamification and immersive media technologies, working relentlessly with the Graduate Medical Education office, SingHealth Academy and SingHealth Duke-NUS Institute of Medical Simulation to develop resources and infrastructure to support virtual modes of training.
Prof Chan has held several education leadership positions since 2006. He was the Chairman for Undergraduate Teaching Committee for Medicine in National University of Singapore (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (YLLSoM) in 2006, a position he held for six years. In 2012, he was appointed Associate Designated Institutional Official for Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and Academic Vice Chair of Education for Medicine Academic Clinical Programme. In 2014, he was concurrently appointed SGH Campus Education Director and SingHealth Deputy Group Education Director (Undergraduate). From 2015 to 2019, Prof Chan served as the President of the College of Physicians, Singapore.
His passion for teaching is also evident by the number of accolades he has received. In recognition of his contribution to undergraduate education, Prof Chan was awarded the Dean's Teaching Excellence Award from NUS YLLSoM, GCEO (SingHealth) Outstanding Educator award (Special Mention), and NUS Special recognition award for Role Model.
He is a well-respected nephrologist who maintains high standards of care, a quality which he instils in the young doctors who trained with him. For his contribution to Nephrology, he was awarded the Lim Cheng Hong's Award (Nephrology) 2010, the Chapter of Renal Physician Lecture Award (2013) and Singapore Society of Nephrology Sterling Award (2015).
He is also actively involved in teaching medical students, medical officers and residents. Prof Chan served as chief examiner for senior residents' Renal Exit Examination (2015 to 2017). He is also examiner for the prestigious Membership of the Royal Colleges of Physician Practical Assessment for Clinical Examination Skills since 2012, examiner for the Advanced Internal Medicine exit examination and YLLSoM and Duke-NUS examiner. He continues to be an examiner for Renal Medicine exit examination and was Chief Examiner from 2015 to 2018.
Prof Chan is not just a teacher, but also a keen researcher, having published more than 70 articles and received some $600,000 in grant funding. His research interests are in renin-angiotensin system gene polymorphism, acute kidney injury, chronic kidney diseases, diabetic nephropathy and hypertension. He was also frequently invited to chair and present lectures at local and international meetings on renal diseases and medical education.
For his outstanding contributions to the education and training of clinicians and healthcare staff, and exemplary support in developing skills and competencies to uphold high standards of care and treatment, Prof Chan Choong Meng is awarded the National Outstanding Clinician Educator Award 2022.
National Outstanding Clinician Scientist Award 2022
Prof Marcus Ong
Prof Marcus Ong is best known both at home and abroad for his research in pre-hospital emergency care. The SGH Department of Emergency Medicine's Senior Consultant is one of Singapore's pioneer clinician scientists in this field, dedicating his studies in the last 20 years in areas such as out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA), and pre-hospital emergency care (PEC). His research has shaped national PEC policy and resulted in lives saved and improved outcomes for OHCA survivors. Prof Ong was recently awarded the prestigious Singapore Translational Research (STaR) Investigator Award by the Ministry of Health's National Medical Research Council (NMRC).
To develop cutting-edge data science research to equip healthcare providers and researchers with key skills, Prof Ong started a data science team at SGH and leads a health services and systems research programme at Duke-NUS Medical School and the Health Services Research Centre at SingHealth.
Often working with the Singapore Civil Defence Force, Prof Ong implemented dispatcher-assisted cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in 2012, heightened awareness of the importance of bystander emergency assistance and doubled the bystander CPR rate from 22% (2011), to 61.8% (2018) for cardiac arrest patients. Prof Ong also implemented the use of high-performance CPR, manual defibrillation, mechanical CPR, drugs such as vasopressin, intraosseous devices, motorcycle paramedics, first responder apps and other innovations. SGH has also seen a 10-fold improvement in the survival rate for OHCA over the last 20 years from 2% in 2001, to 26% in 2019, as a result of efforts from Prof Ong's research team.
Underscoring the importance attached to his studies and the high regard that his name holds, Prof Ong is the principal investigator of more than S$42 million in individual grant funding. He chairs international multicentre studies on OHCA and is a member and senior opinion leader on OHCA with global scientific bodies. He has received numerous awards including the Minister for Health Award (2018), the NMRC Clinician Scientist Awards (2017, 2013, 2010), the Public Service Medal (Pingat Bakti Masyarakat 2016), the Keith Neely Outstanding Contribution to EMS Award (2015 National Association of EMS Physicians), the inaugural Ian G Jacobs Award for International Group Collaboration to Advance Resuscitation Science (2014) and the Lifetime Achievement Award (Asian EMS Council 2014).
Notably, Prof Ong founded and led multidisciplinary teams in the Pan Asian Resuscitation Outcomes Study (PAROS) clinical research network. PAROS, including clinicians, researchers and policymakers from 14 countries, has enrolled over 200,000 cases. PAROS has had an impact on PEC policy in Asia, including low- and middle-income countries. Prof Ong is also the founding chair of the Singapore-registered Asian Association for Emergency Medical Services, which has members from more than 20 Asian countries. He is also the founding board member of the Global Resuscitation Alliance and a long-time member of the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation.
Prof Ong has published widely with more than 360 peer-reviewed papers, including in The Lancet and the Journal of the American Medical Association. His research has resulted in significant commercialisation and industry-funding with patents and completed licensing agreements (e.g. Zoll, Global Healthcare), and two start-up companies (Global Healthcare and TIIM SG). His work is frequently featured in local and international media.
For his pioneering research and tireless dedication to prehospital emergency care and systems, which have shaped government policy both locally and regionally, Prof Marcus Ong is awarded the National Outstanding Clinician Scientist Award 2022.
National Outstanding Clinician Award 2022
Assoc Prof Ng Kee Chong
As the first paediatrician in Singapore to practise paediatric emergency medicine, Assoc Prof Ng Kee Chong's vision and dedication were pivotal to the establishment of Singapore's first Children's Emergency (CE) at KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) in 1997, and the CE's subsequent transformation to become one of the busiest paediatric emergency departments in the region.
With a strong interest in paediatric disaster response and planning, Assoc Prof Ng was instrumental in the development of the national guidelines for paediatric mass casualty protocols, including HazMat situations, for civil and national emergencies. He also helped strengthen the Singapore Civil Defence Force's paediatric pre-hospital protocols and care, and continues to teach Advanced Trauma Life Support in the Singapore Armed Forces.
He is currently the Vice-President of the Singapore Resuscitation & First Aid Council and co-chair of the Subcommittee on Emergent Issues under the National Trauma Committee. Globally, he is the first Asian Chair of the Pediatrics Life Support Task Force of the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation.
To Assoc Prof Ng, health should never be "medicalised". He believes in a life course approach in advancing the health of the mother, child and the family, starting from the womb, all the way to adulthood, to lay the foundations for transformation of our nation's health, for today and generations to come. This guided the launch of the SingHealth Duke-NUS Maternal and Child Health Research Institute in 2021. The Institute serves as the centre of excellence for maternal and child health research and innovation, to support the growth of every woman and child to their fullest potential, to optimise human capital and transform the overall national health.
Recognising the importance of early detection and timely intervention to optimise developmental outcomes of children, Assoc Prof Ng supported the Department of Child Development to build key collaborations and grow community capabilities. Some of these initiatives include the Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children, and the Development and Support Programme which subsequently expanded into a nationwide, community-support programme, and was awarded the SingHealth Distinguished Team Award and NMEA National Clinical Excellence Team Award in 2015. He also facilitated the setting up of the KIDS 0-3 programme which has since evolved into the nationwide KidSTART programme. Assoc Prof Ng was instrumental in the establishment of the KK Human Milk Bank, Singapore's first and only donor human milk bank programme.
Assoc Prof Ng also led KKH through disease outbreaks like SARS, H1N1 and Zika. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Assoc Prof Ng assumed the role of Deputy Commander of the KKH Command Centre. He established the Paediatric Emergency Preparedness plan in response to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic. He led the command team in setting up a tiered isolation facility at KKH – the national centre for managing COVID-19 for women and children in Singapore. This not only enabled the hospital to stagger and reduce risk exposures to patients and healthcare workers during the pandemic, but also allowed KKH to better assess, manage and prepare for other potential disease outbreaks, in conjunction with the hospital and nationwide public health response.
For his unwavering dedication to paediatric emergency medicine, his contributions in advancing clinical education in maternal and child health, and his steadfast leadership in the face of crises, Assoc Prof Ng is awarded the National Outstanding Clinician Award 2022.
National Clinical Excellence Team Award 2022
CGH CareLine Team
CareLine is a 24/7 personal care telephone service pioneered by CGH for vulnerable seniors in need of urgent assistance. It provides health and social support to vulnerable seniors who may be living alone or are frail, and helps them to keep safe and stay healthy at home and within the community settings. Since its launch in 2016, CareLine has cared for close to 19,000 seniors and provided them with assistance to meet both their health and social needs, by tapping on the strong network of community partners across Singapore.
CareLine takes a new and innovative approach for seniors to age well in the community. The strength of CareLine lies in its care relationship model. When seniors enrol into CareLine, CGH CareLine staff conduct an assessment to find out about their needs and preferences. The CareLine team also periodically calls the seniors to check in on their well-being, reminding them of the partnership so that they know that care is just a call away. This allows the CGH CareLine team to gain in-depth understanding of the seniors' psychosocial needs over time.
A technology-enabled client-centred workflow plays a key role in creating a telecare service that enables seniors to be independent, healthy and safe within their communities. Interactions with each senior are tracked closely in the CareLine system.
This allows CGH CareLine staff to have a comprehensive view of past call interactions and enables quicker understanding of the seniors' needs, which facilitates seamless communication with the seniors and expedites the delivery of the required assistance.
Since 2016, the CGH CareLine team has responded to over 1,000 urgent calls and addressed the concerns of the seniors, coordinating care as well as linking them to urgent care services, when necessary. While CareLine handles urgent care coordination, the majority of calls received are related to social and community care needs which are essential for our seniors to live well and confidently in the community.
The cornerstone of CareLine's success lies in the strong network and collaborations with the community partners, including grassroots organisations, government agencies, senior activity centres, and voluntary welfare organisations, across Singapore. Under the close partnership that CareLine has with the Silver Generation Office (SGO), the outreach arm of the Agency for Integrated Care, seniors identified as vulnerable or staying alone by SGO are referred to the telecare service. During the initial home visits, Silver Generation Ambassadors will explain about CareLine and facilitate the sign-up by the seniors. When the seniors require assistance or are uncontactable, CareLine is able to activate SGO to provide the necessary response and this could sometimes include conducting a home visit to check on them.
CareLine has transformed health and social care delivery for seniors in a scalable and effective way. In 2019, CareLine was upscaled nation-wide beyond the eastern region of Singapore and it could not have been timelier. During the pandemic period where physical interactions were replaced by digital interactions, CareLine became the catalyst in empowering our seniors to embrace technology. There were 1,500 mobile phones with the CareLine mobile application installed and distributed island-wide to vulnerable seniors so that they could have easy access to the 24/7 CareLine services.
With its focus on proactive and preventive care and its strong collaborations with various community partners, CGH via CareLine has been a forerunner in adopting a population health approach together with the SingHealth Regional Health system. As the Caring General Hospital, CGH has leveraged CareLine as a platform that is accessible 24/7, 365 days a year to empower the seniors to keep well, get well and age well in their communities and homes. CareLine has also strengthened community partnerships by ensuring an integrated health and social care support ecosystem for the seniors.
For their outstanding dedication in establishing an innovative telecare ecosystem to journey with, care for and empower vulnerable seniors so that the seniors can live and age well in the community, the CGH CareLine team is awarded the National Clinical Excellence Team Award 2022.
Team Leader: Assoc Prof Swapna Kamal Verna
Assoc Prof Swapna's team mates comprise staff from IMH:
IMH Community Health Assessment Team (CHAT)
Adolescence and young adulthood are thought to be particularly tumultuous times for neuropsychological and physical development. Research has shown that one out of every four or five young people in the general population will suffer from at least one mental health condition1. The 2016 Singapore Mental Health Study also found that young people in the 18 to 34 age group were more vulnerable to developing mood and anxiety disorders.
The Community Health Assessment Team (CHAT) was set up by the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) in 2009 to address barriers to care experienced by distressed youths aged 16 to 30. These include concerns on stigma, confidentiality, treatment costs and limited local youth-specific mental health services.
CHAT addresses these concerns by providing free and confidential mental health assessments for distressed youths in a conducive environment located at CHAT Hub, *SCAPE, Orchard. Since the onset of COVID-19 in 2020, distressed youths could also receive the assessments virtually. Youths who feel ambivalent towards telephonic and face-to-face sessions are able to access webCHAT, an anonymous, synchronous, text-based online mental health assessment and support option, until they are ready for conventional professional help.
CHAT provides subsidised referrals to hospitals when downstream psychiatric services are needed. For better continuity of care and successful care transition post-assessment, the team ensures young people receive interim case management and interventions until their hospital referrals take place.
CHAT actively partners young people to design outreach projects (e.g. videos, music and theatre forums) to improve youth mental health literacy. This includes recruiting CHAT Ambassadors annually to co-create service improvement projects so as to ensure mental health services stay youth-friendly and relevant. Currently, CHAT has a social media following of over 7,000 on Facebook and 900 on Instagram, further demonstrating the programme's youth mental health literacy efforts. The number of referrals for CHAT assessment has also increased exponentially, from 51 referrals in 2009 to 2,172 referrals in 2021. The majority of the self-referrals for mental health assessments by youths were by word-of-mouth among friends/colleagues or through webCHAT.
Over the years, CHAT has grown in recognition among local key stakeholders (e.g. young people, Institutes of Higher Learning, Social Service Agencies, government agencies and social enterprises with vested interest in young people and mental health), and is the "go-to" resource for youth mental health information, professional support, training and/or collaboration in advocacy work.
On a national level, CHAT has provided key youth mental health insights and contributed to transformational change discussions on mental health for young people with various partners, including the Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of Social and Family Development, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, and Ministry of Manpower, as well as National Council of Social Service, and Health Promotion Board at platforms such as the Singapore Youth Action Plan Workgroup Retreat, Youth Mental Well-Being Network and Beyond the Label Youth Alliance. In 2019, CHAT established a five-year partnership with MOH, and Agency for Integrated Care to co-create a new youth service model encompassing the provision of integrated social and mental health services for young people aged 12 to 25.
On an international level, CHAT has actively shared its experiences at International Youth Mental Health Conferences since 2012. The Team has also shared their knowledge with medical and allied health professionals from other countries such as Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, India, Brunei and Vietnam. In 2019, CHAT was invited to participate in the World Economic Forum, and Special Lancet Commission on Youth Mental Health.
For their instrumental contributions and significant achievements in improving access and delivering quality mental health care to distressed young people and advocating youth mental health literacy, CHAT is awarded the National Clinical Excellence Team Award 2022.
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